Celebrating 20 Years of Inspiring the Next Generation of Health Services Researchers

Joanne Levy, MBA

Joanne Levy, MBA

In 1998, inspired by a brief GE Foundation-funded summer pipeline program at the Wharton School channelling minority undergrads toward business doctoral studies, Joanne Levy, MBA, saw the potential for a similar program at LDI. She called it the Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) curriculum and wrote the AHRQ/NRSA training grant that funded the program's early years. As founding director, she created an intense three-month long curriculum specifically designed to channel students toward health services research -- rather than MD -- degree studies. Annually, she has recruited dozens of Penn faculty members to take on SUMR scholars as mentees in ongoing research studies, to serve on the committee that selects an annual cohort of about 20 scholars from more than 300 applicants from schools across the country, and to lecture to the SUMR class about specific areas of health care and health services research. Levy is fondly remembered by her former students as a "Mama Jo Jo," a mother hen personality who not only runs the academic program but fosters their bonding as a close-knit group, shepherds them on weekend excursions to Philadelphia cultural attractions, and remains in touch with them long after they've left the SUMR program. "The greatest thing about this program is watching how it can change lives in ways that serve both the individual student as well as the health system's overall quality and diversity," said Levy.